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How can I get search engines to crawl my site and see a localised view of my data?

I have recently started a CMS project in PHP, the site will be multilingual. Assumptions are as follows:

  • 2 languages in the beginning (pl-pl, en-gb)
  • language auto detection based on browser language
  • for all other languages than the above, fallback is en-gb
  • site will have links to change language, but they will be shown as AJAX / JS widget!

I know from my experience that sometimes there are problems with correct Googlebot indexing for home page. My question is whether Googlebot is able to index both language versions of the website, and whether I should use subdomain (en.webpage.com) or PHP get (webpage.com/index.php?lang=EN) to see the best results.

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Do you declare the language properly? –  Gumbo Feb 3 '11 at 10:15
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 8 '11 at 22:07

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marked as duplicate by John Conde Dec 8 '11 at 23:17

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5 Answers

Here is your advice straight from Google.

Google Webmaster Central Multilang howto

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When it comes to SEO, it's all guesswork, so maybe it's best waiting for like 10 answers, but here's my 2 cents:

To my knowledge, subdomain would be treated like a separate site, and ideally for SEO you'd have 2 domains:

example.com example.pl

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I think subdomains, with the correct language in the header section of the page, is a good solution.

An advice. Don't use Ajax for changing language. Use a normal link, so google can follow the link and index the other(s) site. And of course, you gain an inbound link.

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Google just announced New markup for multilingual content. This should make it easier for multi-language sites to deal with translated versions of their website.

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AJAX could creates an issue, spider could not be able to get your links within your JS code. So make sure you add in some place classical HTML links to your pages with different localization.

Google is good to determining the language of you site, but to avoid any problem specify your language attributes in your httpheader and metatags so both browser and spider know about the language.

The best approach in my opinion is to use different subdomains like sp.yoursite.com or fr.yoursite.com for you localized content, in this way you cal tell Google precisely using their tools (Google Webmaster Tools) which subdomains (en. or fr.) is belonging to each language. You will get a better result on the local SERP in my example Google Spain and Google France.

Hope this helps, if you have questions write me a comment.

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